Image and stories in Spiritual Direction

A PLACE FOR STORY TELLING in Spiritual Direction                                                                                                               

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am not “a reader” or a “picture goer” yet I have a story to tell.   I thought  my story was grounded in “serious study”… purposeful not trivial… and yet I am a listener to the religious stories, to the Grimms stories, to the larrikin stories of the country cousins at the racetrack and to the everyday parlance of  t.v. and life stories, heart stories of my community.  How dismissive of me… when the curtain opens, the cover turns back – there is much to be disclosed.

How wonder filled  it has been to be taken on new paths and cross thresholds of imagination not normally traversed or at best warily skirted.    It has been  a delight to journey into other  realms… of film in recent times and to reconfigure defining  parts of me and  delimit  fields of experience.   And now to ‘fess up’   I acknowledge words of wisdom from my sage, Melbourne priest,  film critic and writer Peter Malone:

“ Maybe it is that old Puritanical thing that has influenced religious people.    Entertainment,   while  necessary and usually enjoyed,  is still  rather suspect. It  is  not  quite serious enough – and we should be engaged in what is more serious.”                        

 Having received much wisdom from our sharings over many weeks and  reflected on my experiences,  I have found new mediums of expression and self knowledge.   To have a trusted  guide  who enabled me to traverse from the “profane” into the secular arena enabled me  to move in more freedom and strength from my own stance, values and integrity.

Explanations of sensibilities in story-telling , as raised by John Dominic Crossan,  in “The Dark Interval” [1] gave me insight respecting the amoral character of such in  interests, tastes and styles, and triggered my recognition  that widening my own sensibilities  facilitates my capacity to feel and grow in openness to emotions.

“So sensibility is a key idea  to help us to appreciate our differences in responding to media and the arts. We recognize  characteristics of our sensibility but cannot impose them as expectation on another…or vice versa.”

On the formative nature of experience , Stephen Crites[2]   notes: “We imbibe a sense of the meaning of our own baffling dramas from these stories, and this sense of its meaning in turn affects the form of a man’s experience and style of his action….Stories not only give us ways of understanding reality, they help determine  what we are likely to perceive or be blind to – and recognize as real.”

This is a type of check for  me in listening to others’ stories in spiritual direction as well as in various media.   It adds to my inner dialogue on tolerance and individual values.

For this reflection, I am shying away from an appraisal of film or classification of story types or archetypes in favour of  deepening my understanding between process and human experience.  The focus on emotional responses to movie and storytelling releases me from a tendency to intellectualize and encourages me to explore my imaginative, intuitive and unconscious self and ultimately in spiritual direction  afford this opportunity to others.


[1] John Dominic Crossan “The Dark Interval”
[2] Stephen Crites   “The Narrative Quality of Experience      Journal of the American Academy of Religion 39 (1971) p:304. quoted by Daniel Taylor  :”The Healing Power of Stories”. p.27
%d bloggers like this: